First World Problems and What to Do about Them

I’m sitting by the pool at my sister’s house typing this on my iPad keyboard. I’m using the iPad for three reasons.

  1. My laptop, which I seldom run in boot camp, is now installing umpteen updates before it re-starts in Mac OS
  2. I’m supposed to not be typing so much because a combination of working 80 hours a week and doing judo for 42 years has not done good things for my elbow. Rather than following the doctor’s advice to take a couple of days off each week, I’m just switching between devices and desks hoping that makes it less repetitive motion, and swimming instead of doing judo.
  3. My eyesight, even with glasses on top of nuclear-strength prescription contacts still isn’t good enough to make working on an iphone feasible.


This all reminded me that the only problems I have are first world problems. My laptop is slower than the desktop I have at home. Let’s see, I have a laptop, iPad and iPhone. If your biggest problem today is that the $3,000 worth of electronics you carried with you is inferior to the electronics you left at home, you, my dear, have first world problems.

My great-grandfather was a farmer. He built his home himself, dug it into the ground, then got something that looked like concrete blocks that he stacked up. When his son got married, the two of them, my great-grandfather and great-uncle, built a house for him the same way. He worked at manual labor his whole life – this isn’ t some story the old people made up. I used to stay at my great-grandfather’s house when I was a kid. People around him had bad backs from carrying water from the well, bales of hay, stones for building or to get them out of the way of the plow (or both). If you’re pouting because the hotel pool is full of children, making it inconvenient for you to swim laps for exercise, you definitely have first world problems.

Think about it. I try to think about this every day. When I get irritated by some little thing – and really, the only irritants in my life are little things – I try to remember how insignificant my problems are and show my gratitude for life in some way.

No, this isn’t one of those new-age, feel good, be grateful every day posts. It’s like Ricky Gervais said on twitter,

With all these people saying to send prayers to Oklahoma after the tornado, I feel so stupid. All I did was send money so they could buy food and clothes.

Here is how I try to show my gratitude – either volunteer for some organization or send money. For those of you who believe charity begins at home, in Los Angeles, we have Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Homeboy Industries and Children of the Night .

If you’d like to help out and believe people should help themselves, you started a small business and worked your way up, etc., you can put your money into that provides small loans to people in poverty to start businesses.

In short, the answer to your problems my dear, is that you don’t have any real problems. Just realize that, help someone who has real problems and be grateful that you can.

That is another thing I have learned in (almost) 55 years.

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One Comment

  1. Great reminder! We tend to take things for granted — a lot!

    I used to live in Africa, so I remember all too well the different problems we have here versus other places.

    It’s also important not only to recognize it, but as you say, do something to make a difference — volunteer, donate, etc.
    Something to think about during our day to day lives.

    Thanks for this!

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